XSPORT GLOBAL ACQUIRES LEADING BRAND AGENCY SHIFT NOW

Digital Agency Provides Experienced Team and Scalable Revenue Base

Charlotte and Greensboro, NC – October 4, 2018 – XSport Global, Inc. (OTCQB: XSPT) (“XSport Global” or the “Company”), a leading youth and collegiate sports technology and media holding company focused on developing disruptive sports-centric technologies and related media projects around the world, today announced the acquisition the Greensboro-based, brand agency, Shift Now, Inc. Established in 2006, Shift Now is a full-service strategic, creative and digital marketing agency.

According to terms of the all-stock agreement (the “Agreement”), XSport Global will acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of Shift Now, Inc., in exchange for shares of XSport Global Common Stock. Under the Agreement, and based on certain business milestones, there are additional incentives of performance-based shares of XSport Global Common Stock to be earned out for certain revenue growth targets, during a 24-month period, at 12-month intervals.

Shift Now, is currently profitable and generates more than $3 million in annual revenue. Additionally, 13 members of the Shift Now team will become employees of XSport Global.

“With the acquisition of Shift Now, a profitable and scalable revenue generating firm, coupled with the outstanding team of professional employees Kristi Griggs has attracted, we now have our own leading agency to magnify our brands and transform the overall market.” said, Robert Finigan, CEO of XSport Global. “This highly complementary acquisition of Shift Now will serve as the foundation for XSport Global to develop our brands for the youth sports market without having to pay the high-margin, billable hours of outside creative agencies.”

Kristi Griggs, Principal shareholder of Shift Now, will assume the newly created position of Executive Vice President of XSport Global. In this role, Ms. Griggs will continue her role of overseeing the agency as Division President, while joining forces with the XSport Global Executive Team to further the Company’s offerings and services. Ms. Griggs brings a unique perspective to the Company, as she has journeyed through the process of raising a youth athlete who is now playing D1 softball.

“We have been in negotiations for some time; however, from our first meeting, I knew there was an outstanding opportunity for everyone at Shift Now. By combining forces with XSport Global, we will bring the Company to new heights,” said Kristi Griggs. “Youth Sports alone, is a highly fragmented, multi-billion-dollar market ripe for consolidation.” The cognitive assessment and training market alone, is estimated reach $7.5 billion by 2020 according to a paper: Cognitive Assessment and Training Market by Assessment Type (Pen & Paper Based, Hosted, Biometrics), Service, Application (Clinical Trials, Classroom Learning, Brain Training, Corporate Learning, Academic Research), Vertical and Region – Global Forecast to 2020,” published by MarketsandMarkets. Kristi added, “I am excited to develop a platform for families to learn how their children can have the best, most productive, and meaningful experience in sports. Additionally, our creative and media services team will be integrated to support all XSport Global’s pipeline.”

Robert continued, “This incredible opportunity was just too promising to pass up. We welcome Kristi, and the entire Shift Now team. I am excited to see all value that they will contribute to the future of XSport.”

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical are “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements involve a high degree of risk and uncertainty, are predictions only and actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements.

About XSport Global, Inc.

XSport Global, Inc. (OTCQB: XSPT) is a leading youth and collegiate sports technology and media holding company focused on developing disruptive sports-centric technologies and related media projects around the world, where sports industries and players are highly regarded. Backed by a roster of professional athletes and brand ambassadors, we seek to help athletes achieve their full potential through cognitive training, careers, genetics, recruiting and more. Our flagship company HeadTrainer, Inc was established to create, develop, promote, market, produce, and distribute online/mobile application cognitive training tools initially intended for the youth, millennial, and adult sports markets. The mobile platform was designed and developed in careful coordination with a team of professionals from the fields of science and medicine, and world-class athletes from a variety of sports. Visit www.xsportglobal.com and www.headtrainer.com for more information.

Contacts:  

Investors:
Chris Farmelo, TraDigital IR
+1 212-389-9782 Ext. 103

Media:
Sean Leous, TraDigital IR
+1 212-389-9782 Ext. 102

A Road Map to Next-Level Copy

Ever wonder if your brand’s copy could be more effective? When every word has the potential to make or break your message, it’s imperative to regularly evaluate your copy’s effectiveness. For those who aren’t copywriters, the concept can feel nebulous and unnavigable. Copywriting, at its core, is unlike every other method of writing. Space is limited, and the simplest words can cause you to lose readers. No matter where a piece of copy is headed, its goal is always the same. Engage the audience. Easier said than done, right?

Let’s look at the process of taking a piece of copy from the draft stage to a finished product. Most readers wouldn’t consider these two sentences awful, but they won’t drive action.

What should you think about when shopping for a mattress? Try researching low-waste mattresses made from natural materials.

Copy space is at a premium, so condensing your message is vital. Choosing powerful language means you can impact more strongly using fewer words. This message can be made into a single sentence.

When shopping for a mattress, try researching low-waste mattresses made from natural materials.

Next evaluate your action phrases and choose the most important one or two. Here I have shopping and try researching. My readers are largely consumers, so they’re already shopping or they wouldn’t be reading my blog post. It makes sense to cut shopping from the text.

Try researching low-waste mattresses made from natural materials.

Now look for unnecessary words that aren’t definite like could, maybe, and if. Try is one of these words in my example. I don’t want my reader to try something, I want them to do it. The hard part can be telling readers upfront what you want them to do. Every piece of copy needs a call to action. Use that to your advantage here.

Think about buying a low-waste mattress made from natural materials.

Then the final step is switching in more powerful words like consider instead of think and further condensing. Made from natural materials can be changed to naturally-sourced, which saves space and is more interesting to the reader.

Consider buying a low-waste, naturally-sourced mattress.

Check out the difference between this and the original version of this copy. The final version of the sentence is much more powerful. It’s concise and clear while using interesting language. Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of trying it yourself? You’re not in it alone. We’re here to help! Give us a call, and we’ll take your copy to the next level.

Pencil Pushers

How do you determine your marketing spend? For some businesses, it’s a simple equation that nets out with a percentage of revenue. Unfortunately, many small and medium sized businesses have marketing spends that aren’t effective. Spends are often determined when business is robust without considering how the spend might need to change if revenue declines.

I was meeting with a prospective client recently who had approached Shift to talk about some basic tactical projects. We covered the usual bases –goals, budget, timeline, and so on. As the conversation progressed, I asked “What does your close rate look like when it comes to new business?” The client paused, looking at me with a bewildered expression, and I knew what he was about to say. He had no idea!

Sensing his discomfort, I explained that if he could share this number with us, we could help him understand its implications, and identify the right spend for him as it related to new business—the cost to close. We would be happy to build a program that would allow him to spend his new business budget in a calculated way. This would allow him to wow his prospects while maintaining relative certainty that he would generate a sale for every specific number of potential customers he approached.

While I love working on brand projects of all sizes, I’ve come to especially enjoy collaborating with smaller companies to help them strategically develop great marketing programs that align perfectly with the company’s goals and character. This saves the client both man hours and dollars.

I’ve learned through working with clients large and small that it always pays to poke and prod a bit. If your agency isn’t asking you hard questions, are they just yes men? In my opinion, we clients don’t pay us to take orders. The value of working with an agency is centered on the expertise that a team of professional strategists and creative thinkers brings to the table. Not just on their pencil pushing power.

Ultimately, the client chose to work with us, and our tough strategic conversations are already paying off.

So, are you being challenged by your agency? Ready to make a Shift? Get in touch today.

New Technology, Same Old Tricks

With an ever-changing technology landscape comes new opportunities for marketing your product, service or brand. And while some of these advances in technology are incredibly complex and may seem daunting, the principles behind why they can be leveraged to promote your brand haven’t changed.

One of my favorite communication concepts comes from a TED TALK given years ago by Clay Shirky. In an incredibly insightful chat, he explains (and proves) that we are living through the largest swing in the way humans communicate – ever. And that really hit home for me, not only because it’s true, but consider what a dramatic statement that is. And while that talk is now a decade old, the guiding principles haven’t changed.

To put these concepts into today’s technology landscape, let’s take Voice Search products (using Amazon Echo as an example). This relatively new technology is changing the way people interact with brands. Consider the way you would use voice search versus the way you would manually type out your search – the two approaches differ don’t they? Just this one example impacts your search marketing strategy, your e-commerce strategy and so much more.

Another example of the intersection of emerging technology and brand building can be seen in Virtual Reality products. Consider this – one of the most sought after emotions in cause marketing is empathy. In order for a target to truly align with a cause, you need them to not only understand the cause, but share those feelings that you are portraying. With the introduction of Virtual Reality headsets, we can now transform an experience from a stagnant one to an immersive one. One where you can place a person in almost any situation in the world. Leveraging this technology, we can now place targets in an experience in order to develop empathy, and ultimately align them with our cause, brand or product.

While many brands may not realize the massive change taking place, the ones that do will undoubtedly come out on top. If the introduction of new technology seems daunting, just remember – the same principles from back in the day still apply. And while it can be tempting to latch on to the shiny new objects in the marketing world, just remember to consider even the newest technology with the same rigor as the “good old” tactics and strategies.

To learn more about how Shift can help guide you through the changing marketing technology landscape Click Here.

SEM 101 – Best Practices

If you’ve decided to allocate some of your marketing dollars to SEM, and you find yourself setting up your first campaign, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve broken down some best SEM practices for you here:

Step 1 – START THINKING

In choosing keywords for any campaign it is important to first come up with a long, comprehensive list of potential terms – the bigger the better, you’ll whittle it down later. This list should be based on the landing page that your ads will link to. Your list should include both head terms (i.e. broader terms likely to bring in more search volume) and long-tail keyword phrases (i.e. terms used for the purpose of getting your ads in front of a highly targeted audience). To ensure your list is as comprehensive as possible, keep in mind the 4 types of keyword terms:

+ Generic Terms – Keywords that describe your product
+ Related Terms – Terms that don’t directly apply to your business that your audience may search for
+ Brand Terms – Keywords containing your brand or business name
+ Competitor Terms – Terms that include brands and names of competitors

Step 2 – GO LOCAL, GET SPECIFIC

This is exactly what it sounds like – identifying search terms that involve a particular location. Local search terms will draw the most engaged and appropriate audience to your site and store location. Be sure to include terms that relate to your street address, neighborhood, and town. Additionally, you can segment your traffic by income level. Make a list of all the places in your area likely to bring profitable customers by type and category. You can manually select each area via Google’s location settings. Pro Tip: ensure your location targeting settings are set at “people in my targeted location” to prevent leakage. You can also tier your bids by income bracket, giving you the ability to target the income classes(s) that are most profitable to your business.

Step 3 – BE RELEVANT

Now you have a huge list of keywords. More than you can possibly bid on. So, it’s time to start narrowing it down. But how do you determine which keywords to keep and which to toss? By figuring out how relevant a search term is to a searcher’s intent. There are two things to keep in mind when weighing a term’s relevance:

+ Likelihood of Purchase – If your industry includes strong brands, then search traffic stemming from
competitor terms may not be relevant enough to include. For example: someone searching for “Nike shoes”
is probably not interested in purchasing a pair of Pumas.
+ Position in Buying Cycle – Consider where in the buying cycle users are. Someone searching for a specific
brand and product (ex. “Nike Reax Run 5”) is likely far closer to making a purchase than someone using a
broader search query (ex. “Great running shoes”). Depending upon the type of content on your landing
pages, you want to target terms that indicate a certain point in the buyer’s journey. If you’re linking your ad
to a piece of content called “Top 5 Features of a Great Running Shoe”, then you’ll want to target users early
in the cycle and bid on more general terms. If your ad links to a product-specific landing page, you’ll want to
target customers further down the sales funnel and ready to make a purchase.

Step 4 – THINK NEGATIVELY

Negative keywords are terms and phrases that you do not want your ads to show for. By including them in your campaign, you’re able to prevent Google from wasting your budget on these irrelevant terms. As your campaign runs, periodically check on your search query reports. If any terms appear that are not a good fit for your campaign, you can add them to your Negative Keywords List at any time.

Step 5 – CONSIDER COMPETITORS AND COST

At this point, you’ll have a decent sized list of potential keywords and phrases that reflect your business, your customers’ searches, and the content of your landing page. Now comes the time to consider your competition for these same keywords and how much you’ll need to spend to actually show up for them. Find out exactly who is bidding on the keywords you want, the amount they’re spending, and their average CPC (Cost Per Click). With this information, you can eliminate overly competitive and high-cost keywords from your list.

Step 6 – GET A TOOLBOX

The good news about all the steps listed above? You don’t have to do them by yourself. There are a wealth of high value tools available for your use. Some of which include:

+ Google Keyword Planner – Available in Adwords, this tools allows you to see historical stats on any key
word. Benefit from using the Keyword Planner by gathering info on how a keyword might perform, what
competitive bids look like, and recommended budgets.
+ Google Insights for Search – A tool that gives you access to a spectrum of data to help you make future
trend predictions, and turn your insights into actionable steps.
+ HubSpot’s Keyword Grader – This “grader” condenses all of the data into one easy number. The “grade” or
“difficulty score” is based on a number of metrics and scored between 0 and 100.
+ SEM Rush – A competitor research tool designed to provide you with your competitor’s keywords and their
ranking. Available in a free version, as well as a more comprehensive paid version.

Still need a little help with your paid search? Contact the experts at Shift today!

The Power of Digital Marketing Infographic

There’s no debating that the world of marketing is a very different place than it was a decade ago. Things are changing, and they’re changing fast. Almost of a daily basis, new marketing innovations and technology are making things both easier and more complex. There’s power in staying ahead of that curve. So, check out our handy infographic on The Power of Digital Marketing to read the latest on user stats and trends, along with some digital 101, and helpful tips for digital success.

Keeping pace in the digital space is a demanding job, but someone has to do it. That’s why, at Shift, we’ve got a team of experts ready to develop and execute fully integrated marketing strategies that leverage all the tools and platforms at our disposal in the digital marketing world. Give us a call today and get started with your own digital marketing plan.

Google warns penalties on “intrusive interstitials” come January

Google is reinforcing their mobile search experience guidelines by cracking down on those who still insist on using intrusive web pages displayed before or after the expected content.

Google has announced they are launching a new search algorithm penalty that will essentially downgrade mobile pages that have intrusive interstitials that get in the users way of the intended content. This is happening especially because screens are often smaller on mobile devices and these popups can be damaging the viewer experience.

The new algorithm is expected to launch on January 10, 2017 and will devalue these pages by not ranking them as high as they once did.

This will actually be a replacement of an app that was created in September 2015 to penalize app interstitials that were trying to redirect people to the site’s app rather than just letting them view it on the mobile site. That previous penalty is going away but the new one should have the same impact on app interstitials ads as well.

You might be wondering, “Do I have interstitials that are going to cause my website to rank lower?” Let’s find out. Here are the examples Google gave as “intrusive”:

  • Displaying a popup that covers the main content, either right when the user gets to the page from Google search results, or while they are navigating through the page.
  • Creating an interstitial that the user has to manually dismiss before being able to access main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold part of the page appears similar to the interstitial you have created, but the original content is beneath the fold.

However, if you utilize interstitials, there is a right way of doing it and you may fall under that category, therefore you wouldn’t be affected by the new algorithm. Google said that the following are good practices of interstitials:

  • Interstitials that appear in response to a legal obligation, like age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content in not publicly indexable. This could mean that content such as email is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of space on the screen and can be dismissed or exited easily. The app install banners that are provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that would be considered a reasonable size.

Most users are happy about this news because they are intrusive interstitials sufferers themselves and would prefer a friendlier user experience. One user commented on the matter saying, “I hate pop ups just as many do, good on them I say.” But others feel like this is just another way for Google to have the power: “This is crazy! Google has no right to tell webmasters what they can & cannot put on their websites. An interstitial does not do anything to violate Google’s guideline nor is it designed to manipulate search results.”

Many are worried mostly by the fact that these interstitials won’t be reported as an error, so you will need to figure out on your own whether or not your interstitial is good or bad. The problem being that if you are wrong, it could hurt your revenue stream.

Although there seems to be some back and forth on the new algorithm, the good news is Google is giving people plenty of time to make changes. With Google making this change, it is likely that other search engines will follow in their footsteps and that’s where we come in.

Shift is an advertising agency that does more than just sling around rhetoric about change. We have solutions to changes that will actually make your brand stronger. We can help you to make sure that you are following the new guidelines by January and building your traffic in the meantime. No need to worry about an impact on search results and revenue stream because our content strategists are already one step ahead.

If you would like to learn more about how Shift can help you, chat with us today! We look forward to hearing from you.

A Shift in News Feed

Who knew it would take Facebook to tell us that we are slowly losing our connection to the people who supposedly matter the most to us. Well, it did.

Recently, Facebook made the announcement that they are in the process of changing their News Feed algorithm…again… to put personal content from friends and family in the spotlight over those of business and media from pages you follow.

In other words, Facebook’s original mission was to connect people with their friends and family in a simpler way. News Feed is still exhibiting that, however, our friends are being pushed to the back burner by media, business and marketing pages that we follow. This change is mostly happening because savvy marketers know how to adapt quickly to algorithm changes and play the game.

This is all well and good, but if you depend at all on web traffic to drive your business, you may need to rethink your strategy. The reach and referral traffic of posts from any Facebook pages that focus on business or media companies could begin to drop.

Now, let’s get something straight. Facebook isn’t going to just wipe away business and media companies from News Feed completely, they will still be there…the problem is that they could be at the bottom of your feed. BUT WAIT! There’s a loophole! If you have tons of referral traffic such as people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact.

For big businesses that don’t need to post heavily and can rely on others to share their content, this isn’t going to affect them all that much. What did you say? You aren’t a big business? You aren’t Justin Bieber? Uh oh. Smaller businesses might have to fight back by paying Facebook the big bucks to promote their content as sponsored (you are one sneaky guy, Zuckerberg).

So, now that we have covered the basics of what this change is going to do, let’s talk about the future.

Organic reach is one of the answers to your problems, which may be your biggest problem. This is Facebook’s way of giving you a wake-up call that at the end of the day, people want to connect with people. That’s how Facebook became what it is today! It’s going to be a long process, but once you build those relationships with your followers, they will start doing the work for you by sharing, commenting and liking your posts.

The goal is to add authenticity to your page. Rather than solely posting brand posts that push people to buy a product, enter a promotion or reuse content from ads, post something engaging…and make it personal.

Being a page on Facebook isn’t getting the attention is used to anymore. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important! They offer free and easy-to-maintain online presence for people to learn more information about your business. The problem is that businesses are using Pages as a publishing service when they are much more than that. Your business page is your identity.

Facebook wants to see a face, a name, a personality behind the screen. In addition to changing the way you post content, they want you to activate a variety of different employee voices at your company that will make their pages public. People don’t want to just scroll through your page, they want to interact with it. They may be using it for customer service or discovery to what kinds of people work there.

For example, rather than following your local news station’s Facebook page, you can follow the reporters and on-air talent for your information. In marketing, this could mean having the creative team post video or graphics content. Or your client services team taking to their own Facebook pages and talking about their best strategies to working with clients.

Another way you can get your team involved is for them to post it to the company Facebook page, but then also share it to their own page. This will help to grow your network to not only people who follow your page, but also people who follow your employees too.

Facebook is not saying buh-bye to Pages. They are reinventing them in a better-suited way for your current and potential customers. There will be more added features to Pages including messaging to communicate with the business directly and more effective ways of browsing through video and photo content.

This is a chance for change in the right direction. Build a following based off of relevant and great content that will really resonate with your audience and your business will soar.

5 Tips for Creating Newsletters Users Want to Read

Email newsletters are the perfect way to communicate with prospects or customers on a regular basis. However, email marketing is a delicate relationship that needs proper nourishment.  If you provide the wrong type or consistency of information, you’ll lose permission to communicate with prospects. As a marketer, we know you have good intentions with your email newsletter. But at the end of the day, your news, how-tos, tips and special features need to add a benefit to the end user.

Your content strategy for email newsletters should be well-calculated. By delivering a deliberate message, you’ll create email newsletters that people will want to read. Here are seven tips to help you get subscribers excited about seeing your name in their inboxes:

Provide Value

Which email newsletters do you love to open? Analyze your own habits and you’ll notice that you open newsletters that regularly provide value, such as discounts, or information that could help you do your job better.  Plan your email marketing with the mindset of, “If I were receiving this, would I want to open it?” Having a consumer-focused email strategy will help you establish a connection with your subscribers and put you on the list of considerations when they are ready to convert.

Deliver on Expectations

If you tell subscribers that they will receive actionable insights or special deals and don’t deliver, your unsubscribe rate will jump through the roof.  Use clear language to set proper expectations when users sign up and follow through with your deliverables.

Provide Calls to Action

As a marketer, you always want a user to complete an action. Email marketing is no different. Let the subscriber know what you want him/her to do. Links should visually stand out and use clear language. Mix in a combination of call to action buttons for main content and in-text links for more streamlined sub-content.

Hyper-Segment

Creating list segments helps you deliver relevant content and calls to action. Consider a manufacturer that sells both B2B and B2C. You want consumers to purchase directly from your website or find a store that carries products. On the other hand, you want to share tradeshow information and market analysis with your business partners. By dividing your list into consumers and partners, you can deliver the right information to the right people.

Design with Intent

Design helps focus a user’s attention on what you want them to do. A great email design does three things: motivate a person to take action, reduce anxiety towards taking the action and provide a clear path to conversion. Keep context in mind as well; 53% of emails are now opened on mobile devices.

Your customers want to hear from you. Email marketing is possible because subscribers invited you into their inboxes. Keep the invitation open with newsletters that excite and delight and your subscribers.

6 Must-Haves for a Landing Page That Converts

Yay – you’ve created a top-notch digital marketing campaign. Congrats! But if you’re sending people to the front door of your website and measuring this campaign by clicks or CTR, you’re leaving ROI on the table. Landing pages are the essential tool to drive conversions.

Take a look at your website’s homepage. A quick glance at all of the links in the navigation will show you that this page was designed with a general purpose. Every link on that page that doesn’t relate to why a user came to your site or what you want the user to do is a distraction that will dilute your message.

Landing pages solve this issue by focusing on one message and one conversion. Use these six critical elements to push the user across the finish line and convert.

1. Consumer-Focused Unique Selling Proposition

The headline is typically the first thing people will see on your page; the goal here is to catch attention and persuade the user to continue reading. Use a strong headline that relates to the consumer by focusing on a main point. If your headline is too long, don’t be afraid to break it up and use a sub-header.

2. Hero Shot or Video

Humans are visual. Powerful imagery or video is the best way to show off your product or service. This isn’t an area to skimp; using stock imagery will diminish trust on your page. If you can, create original content, show your product or service in context and invest in the help of a professional.

3. Juicy Benefits

We’re not talking about a list of special features here; let people know how your product or service will benefit them or their business. Keep this list short & sweet by highlighting 3-7 of the best benefits you have to offer.

4. A Form

You created a landing page to get a user to complete an action (if you didn’t, call us so we can re-evaluate your strategy). Do you want a user to download a brochure? They can do it in exchange for a little bit of personal information. Forms help you assess the success of your marketing campaign by giving you tangible results.

5. A Call-to-Action

A strong call-to-action focuses on the benefit that the user will get from your landing page. Why would somebody “join” or “sign up today” when they can “get free stuff”? Use your call-to-action to reinforce why they came to your landing page in the first place. This relevancy will get them to cross the line to conversion.

6. Social Proof

Add reviews, testimonials, ‘as seen in’ logos, registration count or a social widget on your landing page. This validation from others establishes trust and confidence for the consumer.

Once you have these elements in place, run A/B tests to optimize the design of your landing page. Test button colors, call-to-action language, form placement and photography. Don’t become complacent. There’s always room for improvement!

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